When to start up your business

The right time to launch a start-up depends on the business, the idea, and their market. It is all about strategic timing. When trying to figure out the strategic timing for launching your business, it’s good to consider how much expertise you have acquired, the addressable market’s readiness to your product or service, and how much capital you have to sustain it. Omar AlSharif, marketing manager at Oasis500, advises entrepreneurs to create a business model plan. “This will enable them to know their product, addressed market segments, market channels, suppliers, value proposition, competition, operations, and potential partners.” The entrepreneur should always do market research to see the feasibility of the product in the market. Entrepreneurs should also study the competition and know their edge and what their value proposition is in the market.

Research

You should research the market before setting up your business. Look up the size of the addressable market and how you can penetrate it strategically. Research people who have implemented the same idea internationally or locally and see how they’ve done it. Compare that with what works for your region and what doesn’t, and how it lines up with your vision. Qualitative research is as equally important as quantitative research, so start talking to people about your business idea. Nur AlFayez, co-founder of Feesheh.com says: “Talk to other entrepreneurs about how they’ve tackled any dilemmas they encountered. People love to help, never be afraid to approach others for advice.” Everyone from your family and friends to your co-workers can be helpful in providing feedback and different perspectives on your business plan. Some people might supply you with contacts, give you advice or even decide to invest in your plan. Developing relationships with everyone by approaching them at events or conferences can also be very useful. Always ask questions, this way you can find experts in the field who can mentor you and point you in the right direction.

If you’re considering leaving your job to focus on your start-up, you need to make sure you’ve ticked some boxes on your checklist before making this big decision. Make sure that quitting your job will actually benefit your start-up rather than drain its liquidity on personal expenses. According to Michael Makdah, co-founder of Jo-Bedu, when you set up your own business, you need to be as selfless as possible. “You will need to make many sacrifices when it comes to developing your business, and these include cash. It would be wise to create a weekly cash flow of both your business and your personal life, and see whether quitting your job will interfere between these in any way.” Co-founder of Jo-Bedu Tamer AlMasri said: “It has to be a case-by-case scenario. We did not take risks when it came to leaving our previous jobs. It took us four years to make that move and focus on Jo- Bedu, but it might take someone else far less time.” Afterwards, when you feel that your company needs you to be there at any time and any cost on a day-to-day basis, consider leaving your job to concentrate on your start-up. This is particularly important for those who want to have a hands-on experience with managing the business. Remember, however, that it all depends on you and your business.

Two’s company

Launching a start-up requires hard work, dedication and a lot of patience. That’s why one of the most important tips from experts is to consider finding a partner to share the load of responsibilities with. AlFayez definitely recommends it: “Whenever you’re frustrated, your partner will motivate you and vice versa. You will make each other stronger which will in turn reflect on your project”. When you’re working with someone, creative juices can start flowing and better ideas will be born. However, CEO of iMENA Adey Salamin advises entrepreneurs to be very careful who to go into business with: “always try to find someone you have mutual respect with, who has the same vision, and the same work ethics as yours.”

Experts emphasise the importance of having enough experience prior to setting up a start-up. The knowledge one acquires through working in another organization gives great advantage when dealing with different situations; you will be able to make right decisions, quickly amend mistakes or even avoid them altogether. Sharif says that “the experience factor will give you richer knowledge on how business is made and how to interact with your market, investors, and supporters”. And according to AlFayez, there’s a certain discipline that one acquires through working for others; you learn to understand the dynamics of the sector, and some tips and tricks that will come in handy along the way. It also teaches you how to deal with others professionally. Makdah said that you need to work under someone to learn how to manage your own employees. Being an employee allows you to test your own limits, and being a business owner you will test your employees’ limits.  Previous experience will also help you build connections in the industry, which is a great advantage to your business. According to Salamin, having many connections gives you the opportunity to seek different kinds of advice from professionals in the field. He says: “Ask for advice from both those who are mature and those who are pure crazy and create your own balance.”

When it comes to attracting investors, know that it won’t be easy. Approach investors after having an appealing business plan that will make them eager to work with you. “Never go only with an idea, there are plenty of ideas,” Salamin advises. “Always have something that draws them in because it gives you better leverage with investors. Have numbers and calculations that make you stand out.” It is also a good idea to think of the investor as a partner, and not as a source of funding.  AlSharif also suggest you seek funding when you require it the least. “It will give you a stronger position with investors in negotiating for a deal and you will never settle for the first deal that comes your way.” It might take some time before you reach an understanding with investors, so as Salamin advises, “be persistent and always improve your business model based on feedback, and have as much patience as possible.”

This piece was published in Venture Magazine.

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